Anybody can win eight games in a row. The real test of a team is what happens when that big hot streak ends. Was the brief spate of winning an aberration, or was it a harbinger of things to come for the rest of the season?
The Mets’ winning streak came to a crashing halt this weekend. Well, it was more like a 10 car pileup than a crashing halt. The team sent their two best pitchers to the mound after crushing the Phillies 9-1 on Friday night, and they surrendered a combined 16 runs. Ouch. Jerry Manuel has recently been saying he wants to see how his team reacts when they face adversity. Well, adversity has arrived, in the form of a bloodbath in Philadelphia.
The Mets have been boasting about the great chemistry this year’s team has, and the good vibes in the clubhouse, so we’ll soon see if this translates to consistent success on the field.
So here are a few questions we’ll quickly know the answers to: Was it just two bad days for the team, with two innings of putrid pitching taking them out of the games early? Will they shrug off the losses like they were routine and continue on with solid all-around fundamental play? Are they getting the collapsing out of the way at the beginning of the season instead of the end? Are they really not very good, with their recent 10-1 stretch all a mirage? Was Mike Pelfrey pitching way over his head or was it just a case of one bad inning? Is Johan Santana starting on the downside of his career, with decreased velocity, or was last night one crazy game that happens to everybody once in a while?
After not having many expectations coming into the season, the Mets catapulted from last place to first place as fast as home runs are hit out of Citizens Bank Park. And now they’re making the rounds in the standings, as they’ve fallen to second place.
A series win in Cincinnati (and especially a sweep) will help to get rid of the bad taste of the last two losses, but a slide following this weekend may be hard to recover from, with bad feelings creeping into the team’s psyche an inevitability. Hopefully the two bad innings were just a blip on the radar screen, and the Mets will show us this is a new team that doesn’t resemble the last few years’ version.
Getting shutout by Roy Halladay is nothing to be embarrassed about, and it’s doubtful Santana will give up 10 runs in one game ever again (and that includes old-timers’ games, too). Manuel wanted to build some character with adversity, so the time has come. But here’s a somewhat scary thought: Oliver Perez has to be the team’s stopper tonight.